HM Insights

Can an email be a 'Living Will' setting out your wishes for future medical treatment?

A Court of Protection Judge ruled last week that an email sent four years ago was a "significant" record of a woman's views on being kept alive.

A 74-year-old woman is to have her life ended in hospital due to the content of an email she sent to her daughter after watching a programme on dementia. The woman had slipped into a near coma following a fall last year and the Court of Protection Judge backed the daughter's request to withdraw the nutrition and hydration tubes that were keeping her alive.

Living Will Advance Medical Directive Email Elderly Relative Power Of Attorney Law Solicitor Scotland

Although this is an English decision, and the same view may not have been taken in Scotland, it's worth thinking about the impact that a Living Will would have here.

What is a Living Will/Advance Medical Directive?

A Living Will (also known as an Advance Medical Directive) allows you to set out whether or not you want to refuse specific treatments in the future. A copy of the document is sent to your GP so it is available if required in the future.

What are the benefits of a Living Will?

  • A Living Will gives you the opportunity to tell your family, carers and medical professionals how you wish to be treated in the event that you ever become unable to give instructions in the future.
  • If your family are aware of your wishes it can help to avoid family disagreements about your care.
  • It can remove the burden on others who would otherwise have to make medical decisions about your care.

What effect does a Living Will have in Scotland?

Living Wills in Scotland are not legally binding but they can be very persuasive. The document can be used as a guide to those who need to make decisions about your care.

Get in touch

If you would like to discuss preparing a Living Will, please get in touch with your usual Harper Macleod contact.